Carrie White is a misfit. At school, she's an outcast who's bullied by the popular crowd, and virtually invisible to everyone else. At home, she's at the mercy of her loving but cruelly over-protective mother. But Carrie's just discovered she's got a special power, and if pushed too far, she's not afraid to use it…
Based on Stephen King's bestselling novel, the musical of Carrie hasn't been seen since its legendary 1988 Broadway production. Now, the show's original authors have joined with director Stafford Arima (Altar Boyz) and MCC Theater for a newly reworked and fully re-imagined vision of this gripping tale. Set today, in the small town of Chamberlain, Maine, Carrie features a book by Lawrence D. Cohen (screenwriter of the classic film), music by Academy Award winner Michael Gore (Fame, Terms of Endearment), and lyrics by Academy Award winner Dean Pitchford (Fame, Footloose).
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Cast Recording Now Available On Ghostlight Records
HEAR THE SHOW!
The newly re-mastered Original Broadway Cast Recording of “Footloose, The Musical” features the bonus track “Still Rockin’,” sung by original cast member Hunter Foster. The handsome souvenir booklet includes a synopsis, color photos and complete lyrics, as well as two blank ‘yearbook’ pages for collecting autographs and recording memories of your own special production!
CARRIE the musical Songbook available from Hal Leondard
The CARRIE the musical song folio is now available from Hal Leonard Corporation. www.halleonard.com
(Please note: The purchase of this folio does not carry with it a license to present the stage musical.)
What Were They Thinking? Carrie, from Book to Movie to Musical
What Were They Thinking: Carrie, from Book to Movie to Musical is an intensely personal chronicle, tracking Lawrence Cohen's almost four-decade history with Stephen King's classic fable, from reading the manuscript in 1973 while a reader for producer David Susskind, to writing the screenplay for the classic 1976 Brian de Palma film, from deciding to turn it into a musical (1984) to the controversial Royal Shakespeare Company and legendary Broadway production that crashed and burned (1988), to collaborating on its rebirth and acclaimed resurrection Off-Broadway for MCC Theater in 2012.
Coming Soon: Off-Broadway Cast Recording from Ghostlight Records andSongbook Folio from Imagem Music/Hal Leonard read more
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“Welcome to the prom, Carrie. They’re not going to laugh at you now! Powerfully acted and intensely well sung, this infamous rock musical about a telekinetic teen has the strange power to move you. The new and improved Carrie is gripping."— Adam Feldman, Time Out New York
"A downtown hit! This former joke of a musical now feels like a bonanza. The emotional core comes from the bond between Carrie and the religious fanatic of a mother who needs to keep her close."— Linda Winer, Newsday
I think I’m having a heart attack. It’s the afternoon of January 31, 2012, and I’m downtown at off-Broadway’s Lucille Lortel Theater on Christopher Street in the West Village. Surrounded by banks of sound and lighting equipment, I’m standing with my collaborators, composer Michael Gore and lyricist Dean Pitchford, in the darkened, shadowy house, looking up at the bare stage. It’s just hours before our newly reimagined musical based on Stephen King’s Carrie -- a legendary show that notoriously crashed-and-burned on Broadway in 1988 -- will play its first public preview here. It’s an event that more than a few naysayers adamantly swore would never ever happen, especially in the hyper fishbowl glare of New York. So this isn’t just any first preview -- this is Carrie’s resurrection night and, if there is huge pride and joy in having this second chance to see a new incarnation of our show up on its feet, I suddenly realize that I’m short of breath and have broken into a sweat. My heart is thumping so loudly it’s about to burst out of my chest (presuming my head doesn’t explode first), and I honest to God can’t remember my name. Breathe, I tell myself -- breathe.
As the cast take their places for one last run-through, I turn to find Michael, Dean, and our director, Stafford Arima, with similarly dazed, out-of-body and deer-in-the-headlights looks on their faces. The kids begin to sing “In,” the newly revamped opening number with emphatically contemporary orchestrations by Doug Besterman, infectious vocal harmonies by AnnMarie Milazzo, gorgeous arrangements and music direction by Mary-Mitchell Campbell, and arresting choreography by Matt Williams. Bernie Telsey, co-founder of MCC, the theater company that’s producing the show, bounds down the aisle and bursts into a huge grin. “Whoa,” he whispers excitedly to his partners and us, “I just got the chills.”
It’s no secret that our first time at bat with Carrie didn’t work out the way we’d hoped. The Royal Shakespeare Company production and its turbulent gestation -- first at Stratford-Upon-Avon in England and then on Broadway -- was an insanely bruising, roller-coaster-like experience. Aside from stunning, larger-than-life performances by Linzi Hately in the title role and Betty Buckley as her mother, the show bore precious little resemblance to what we’d envisioned with its wildly tone-deaf excesses and inadvertent camp. When it closed after 16 previews and 5 performances, it became the stuff of theatrical legend and notoriety and prompted many to wonder: “What were they thinking?”
Decades before Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark became a bigger story offstage than on, there was Carrie -- the first time a Broadway musical went from being a piece of theater to hard news with the backstage tale of its failure splashed across the front pages of every paper in the country. Time Magazine crowned it “the biggest all-time flop ever,” and that, for a long time, is how most of the world thought of it. In truth, if the production onstage had been what was in our hearts and minds as authors, we would probably have just walked away and called it a day -- end of story.
In the years that followed, we were barraged with requests to perform the show around the world, but we had zero desire to see the version that closed on Broadway ever again. We turned down offers from colleges and high schools; from organizations that wanted to do it as benefit concerts; from companies hoping to stage it as Rocky Horror Show camp, or gender-bender drag. We became the subject of a book (Not Since Carrie) and, over time, a series of grainy, black-and-white bootleg videos shot from the theater’s balcony during its original run received so many hits on YouTube that we found ourselves accorded cult status. As a show, though, Carrie remained unseen and without a cast album for almost 25 years.
As I stand here now watching our company onstage, a roar of memories come rushing back, and intense feelings, at once familiar and new, flood in. Flashcards of recollections fill my mind -- the night Michael and I went to see Alban Berg’s Lulu at the Metropolitan Opera, after which Michael had the “ah-ha!” idea to turn Carrie (which I’d adapted to film in 1976) into a musical that would incorporate both pop and opera-like elements; phoning Steve King up in Maine to ask if he’d let us have the stage rights (“I’d be thrilled out of my undershorts” he replied); inviting Dean, who expressed immediate and unequivocal enthusiasm, to join us as lyricist; and, after we’d completed a draft of Act I, an informal workshop we put on at director/choreographer Michael Bennett’s 890 Studios headed by Annie Golden as Carrie and Maureen McGovern as Margaret. That reading, in turn, led to a flurry of interest in a production and a series of unforgettable meetings with possible directors including Bob Fosse, Mike Nichols, Jerome Robbins, James Lapine, Des McAnuff and Ken Russell. In the winds of memory, I remember Terry Hands, the RSC’s Artistic Director, first proposing that his company do the show as their follow-up to Les Miserables -- only to see it become a political hot potato in the British press. They were outraged at the idea of a show based on -- gasp! -- an American “potboiler” by Stephen King. My mind zeroes back to our horrified realization -- too late -- that when we used the musical Grease as a reference point to Terry, he thought we meant Greece and, much to our dismay, costumed the high school girls’ gym class in toga-like whites and the boys in gladiator-like studded leather. I remember a heart-stopping moment in Stratford during which the legendary Barbara Cook -- star of Broadway’s Golden Age who was making her eagerly anticipated return to the stage as Carrie’s mother -- was nearly decapitated when the set bringing her on malfunctioned.
After Barbara withdrew and was replaced by Betty Buckley for the move to New York, I vividly recall a second night preview in which the coup de theatre finale -- the entire gym roof descending and turning into an epic white staircase -- stuck and hovered halfway down for minutes. Most of all, though, whatever our own misgivings, I can still hear audiences greeting the production with wild cheering and standing-Os like a rock concert -- as well as booing, as if they were at the premiere of a new opera at La Scala, or a legendary boxing match in Madison Square Garden. Even crazier, some performances experienced both responses at the same time -- leaving us standing in jaw-dropping, open-mouthed shock.
Finally, as if it were yesterday, my mind locks on the 1988 opening night that led to a number of theater myths that have prevailed to this day. The first was that the show received unanimously negative reviews when, in truth, Frank Rich’s pan in the Times was matched by Clive Barnes’ rave in the Post, and Variety’s trouncing notice was countered by the Hollywood Reporter’s love letter. The second myth -- an inaccuracy that was repeated endlessly until it became fact -- was that the show closed because of bad reviews. In truth, our German producer -- after rallying the team at the Saturday matinee with his plans to make a go of it -- got cold feet and proceeded to shut his offices and bank accounts and flee the country in the middle of the night without telling any of us. Trust me, you couldn’t make this stuff up…
In the intervening years, my collaborators and I never gave up on the piece or the initial impulses that had inspired us to musicalize King’s remarkably prescient little fable in the first place. Something primal about it -- about life as an outsider in high school -- continued to speak to us in some deep part of our souls…the persistent sense that we are all Carrie. In addition, the passage of time, along with the increasing epidemic of bullying in the world, only made its narrative more resonant, as did the vocal presence of religious fundamentalists in our culture. The truth was that when asked repeatedly if we ever thought we’d see a production of the show again, our answer was when -- not if.
Before that occurred, though, we felt that we needed to do a top-to-bottom MRI of every element of the script and score to see if we could swing the pendulum back from the first production’s tonal lapses in favor of a new and hopefully more cohesive musical tragedy -- a better Carrie. Presuming the circumstances were ever right, we still harbored the desire to send this little misfit child of ours into the world -- not as a statistic or a legend, but as a living piece of theater to be seen and discussed and argued over and felt -- not hidden away in a drawer.
A few years ago, the three of us decided that we at last were ready to go back to work to create a version of the show that we liked -- one that might be able to take its place in the musical theater repertoire and be licensed as a viable stage property. Armed with our respective wish lists, we met to discuss creating something closer to our original intentions, but with absolutely no notion of New York on our agenda. At the same time, we were contacted by director Stafford Arima (Altar Boyz), who’d seen the original production as a teenager while visiting New York from Toronto, and now wanted to know if we’d be willing to meet to hear his dream of making a new Carrie a reality.
After a 29-hour workshop in November 2009 with a cast headed by the fierce and fearless Molly Ranson and Marin Mazzie as Carrie and Margaret, Bernie Telsey asked us if we’d consider a more scaled-down and intimate chamber version as part of MCC’s season. We thanked him profusely, but immediately rejected the prospect of appearing again in New York with no safety net and our butts flapping in the wind. To their credit, Bernie and his gang persisted, and their ardent passion finally succeeded in wearing down our considerable reservations. Still not quite believing we were doing this, we took a collective deep breath and, with Stafford at the calm and nurturing helm, tried to put our fears aside in favor of the work itself. Rolling up our sleeves, we determined to do our best and embrace whatever possibilities the experience might bring as if Carrie was a brand-new show, conjuring all the inspiration, craft and stamina that we could summon. A talented new family of actors (14 vs. the original 27), musicians (7 vs. 24), designers, choreographer, and a ferociously talented music department jumped on board with us -- all eager to add their inspired ideas and new layers to the material. Each invested not only their risk-taking courage to rebirth this new Carrie set in the present, but also their uncommon kindness and grace as well.
Two labs and a month of rehearsals later, here we are with our considerably revised Carrie, ready to play its first preview tonight to a packed house. Soon enough, theater social media bloggers -- extreme fans and haters alike -- will weigh in with their uncensored, no-holds-barred opinions. Professional reviewers will follow suit March 1, and Carrie being Carrie, controversy will rage once again.
Before any of that happens, though, my collaborators and I pause to exchange a look at each other across the darkness. Taking a moment, we silently acknowledge just how rare an event this actually is -- an opportunity most writers are lucky to ever have once, much less twice. This is it -- a second chance to see our show come alive onstage in a version that more closely mirrors our dreams. As we stand together, the divide of 24 years falls away, and past and present merge in a dizzying shuffle that makes us feel like characters in our own ghost story. Without being overly dramatic about it -- okay, well, maybe just a little -- I think I’m crying and, sure enough, tears are rolling down my face.
It’s been a long journey back.
Lawrence D. Cohen, Carrie’s librettist, adapted Stephen King’s debut novel for the 1976 Brian de Palma film. His upcoming book, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? THE CARRIE CHRONICLES, will be published in 2013.
Off-Broadway Alliance2012 — Best Musical Revival
Vocal Range of Characters:
Written By: Lawrence D. Cohen, Michael Gore & Dean Pitchford
“On Broadway these days, being facetious is easy (Rock of Ages, Book of Mormon). Being serious is the real daredevil challenge. The few musicals that succeed at it (Miss Saigon, Spring Awakening) usually protect themselves from ridicule by setting their stories in distant times and places. Carrie tries to turn ordinary, all-too-familiar high school angst into the stuff of tragedy. The show has guts.”Richard Zoglin, TIME MAGAZINE
TONE: From the moment we began writing Carrie, our intent as authors was to tell a dramatic fable about a girl whose very name has become synonymous with high school bullying. As a poster-child for cruel victimization that’s unfortunately grown to epidemic proportions, Carrie and the stage musical that bears her name deserve to be treated with respect and dignity -- her story staged and acted with emotional conviction. We were never interested in seeing our show done in a campy or kitschy style; we’ve been offered that opportunity, and have never chosen to go down that road. Treating the material seriously, however, doesn’t mean that it should be performed without humor, excitement, or fun; on the contrary, it absolutely needs these elements. Between us, we always considered Sweeney Todd -- Stephen Sondheim’s gripping, often wickedly funny musical tragedy –- one of our inspiring models.
STAGING: Stephen King’s 1974 debut novel and Brian de Palma’s 1976 film both used the vocabulary of their distinct media -– the page and the screen -- to tell this tale. Our Carrie is a piece for the stage, and we strongly encourage you to imagine it –- as we have -- in theatrical terms. Unpack every bit of stagecraft at your disposal to bring it to life.
With that in mind, let us share a few thoughts:
THE SET, as described in the libretto, is deliberately non-naturalistic; whatever their differences, our show’s first two productions shared this perspective. The original 1988 Broadway version was set within the confines of a classic black box –- a theatrical term referring to a simple and unadorned performance space, which our designer gave a spin by painting white. The stripped-down 2012 off-Broadway production, written to frame and tell the story in Sue Snell’s mind, featured an eerie, ever-present backdrop of a burnt-out gymnasium with doors -- a versatile landscape on which a shifting mosaic of time, place and memory could be enacted.
Neither production was bound by naturalism; there were no sets lumbering on and off with literal furniture. We would encourage a similarly creative and abstract approach.
One additional note: from the show’s earliest days, we considered the possibility of staging the piece in a site-specific space instead of a theater –- a high school gymnasium with bleachers, for example, or perhaps an empty warehouse or old factory -- and we offer up that kind of out-of-the-box thinking for your consideration as well.
SUE’S INTERROGATORS: Our approach to dramatizing Carrie, inspired by an idea in the King novel, was to tell the story from the perspective of Sue Snell, the lone survivor of the tragedy that claimed the lives of her classmates and teachers. So we’ve always imagined that the voices she hears are in her head. In this libretto, the source of the voices questioning her is deliberately unspecified. Whether they’re pre-recorded and handled as sound cues -- or coming from the shadows onstage or off –- or even from somewhere else -- that’s up to you. Combining these disembodied voices with the harsh cone of light which glares down on her (as noted in the script) will convey the unrelenting loop of haunting memories that Sue is forced to re-live.
CARRIE’S POWERS: King’s story is about a girl with the gift of telekinesis (TK) –- the ability to move objects with her mind. Carrie’s power is first glimpsed following the traumatic onset of her period and her cruel hazing by the other girls -–- events that are capped by a light bulb exploding overhead in the girls’ locker room. The power surfaces a second time when Carrie, upon being taunted by Billy Nolan, unwittingly causes him to go sprawling off his skateboard.
These beats build to the critical moment when Carrie, locked alone in her prayer closet, experiences a rush of emotion that causes a figurine of Jesus to levitate. It is only, however, after researching the subject of telekinesis in the library that Carrie starts to truly harness and hone her ‘gift’.
All of these occurrences build to a climactic confrontation with Margaret at the end of Act I. At the height of a raging thunderstorm, Carrie consciously uses her mind to slam the windows in the house and demonstrate her newfound powers in this life-and-death battle of wills with her mother.
With the help of our sound designer, we created a distinctive sound –- an eerie, hollow WHOOSH! –- which accompanied each occurrence of TK, so that Carrie’s power had an aural as well as a visual component. We recommend you do a similar exploration for your production. When these audio/visual moments are delivered in striking, memorable ways, Carrie’s horrific display of power in the Destruction will feel emotionally earned, rather than simply a gratuitous display of special effects.
THE BLOOD: Perhaps the show’s most controversial element is the bucket of blood that Chris and Billy dump on Carrie as a vengeful prank at the Prom. It’s essential that this organic story point be executed onstage in a way that the audience accepts it and finds it satisfying.
As for stage blood, there’s no getting around it –- like any liquid, it’s wet and comes with all sorts of potential challenges. It can stain a dress and clog a body mic. It can make the stage difficult to navigate. If, however, you can figure out a smart and effective way to work with liquid, by all means go for it. But don’t overlook other possible elegant, stylized solutions to convey the dropping of the blood. Lights? Fabric? Shadows? Projections? You get the idea….
Always remember that this is theater, where imagination is your greatest asset. Then challenge yourself to find a workable, imaginative, and ultimately thrilling solution.
Finally, a word about CAST SIZE: On Broadway, Carrie featured a cast of 27 and an orchestra of 23. The off-Broadway production was re-scaled for a cast of 14 and a band of 7, and that number –- which is reflected in this libretto and score and on the CD* -- seems to us the minimum number for the show to work. Don’t feel obliged to use more than 14, but it’s worth noting that enlarging the ensemble offers the opportunity to make the school and the classrooms and the Prom feel more populated. It also gives Billy and Tommy, and Chris and Sue the chance to each have more of a ‘posse.’
As authors, the writing –- and rewriting -- of Carrie has been a remarkable journey, and we’re thrilled about having this version to send out into the world. We hope you have a great time exploring this timely and timeless story, and we can’t wait to see what you do with it!
*Cast Recording Available at www.sh-k-boom.com
ARTWORK: This show now has new iconic artwork, bringing the professional look of Broadway straight to your theater. Show posters, print ads, Facebook graphics, and marketing materials are all available in customizable formats.
MAKE YOUR OWN PLAYBILL! Playbill VIP allows you to create your very own Playbill Program. We have provided Playbill with all of the credits, song listings, musical numbers and more so that most of the work is already done for you. Just add your productions details, photos of the cast and share it with all of your friends. Learn more: www.playbillvip.com
- CARRIE- Rehearsal Set (22 Books)
- 20 – Libretto-Vocal Book
- 2 – Piano Vocal Score
- 1 – Digital Logo
- CARRIE - Orchestration (7 Books)
- 1 – Keyboard 1/Conductor
- 1 – Keyboard II
- 1 – Guitar I
- 1 – Guitar II
- 1 – Cello
- 1 – Bass
- 1 – Drums
- Carrier - Perusal Piano Vocal
- Carrie - Perusal Keyboard 1 - Conductor
- CARRIE - Pre-Production Package
- 1 – Libretto-Vocal Book
- 1 – Piano Vocal Score
- CARRIE - Libretto-Vocal 10-Pack
- 10 – Libretto-Vocal Book
CARRIE takes place in a small town of Chamberlain, Maine
Coming Soon: Off-Broadway Cast Recording from Ghostlight Records andSongbook Folio from Imagem Music/Hal Leonard Read More
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